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NORD STREAM

Swedish institute says underwater ‘blasts’ recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks

Two underwater blasts were recorded prior to the discovery of three leaks on the Nord Stream pipelines linking Russia and Europe, a Swedish seismological institute said Tuesday as the unexplained leaks raised suspicions of sabotage.

Swedish institute says underwater 'blasts' recorded prior to Nord Stream leaks
A woman takes pictures of waves on the Baltic Sea near Warnemeunde, northeastern Germany, in 2017. Huge circles of foaming water appeared in the Baltic sea on Tuesday after reported leaks from the Nord Stream pipelines. Photo: Bernd W├╝stneck/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

The Swedish National Seismic Network recorded two “massive releases of energy” shortly prior to, and near the location of, the gas leaks off the coast of the Danish island of Bornholm, Peter Schmidt, an Uppsala University seismologist, told news wire AFP.

“The first happened at 2:03am just southeast of Bornholm with a magnitude of 1.9. Then we also saw one at 7:04pm on Monday night, another event a little further north and that seems to have been a bit bigger. Our calculations show a magnitude of 2.3,” Schmidt said.

“With energy releases this big there isn’t much else than a blast that could cause it,” he added.

WATCH: Baltic Sea foams with gas from broken Nord Stream pipeline

Schmidt explained that since the releases were “very sudden” and not a “slow collapse”, the events were “in all likelihood some type of blasts.”

The Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) also confirmed it had registered “a smaller explosion” in the early hours of Monday, “followed by a more powerful on Monday evening.”

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines have been at the centre of geopolitical tensions in recent months as Russia cut gas supplies to Europe in suspected retaliation against Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine.

While the pipelines, which are operated by a consortium majority-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom, are not currently in operation, they both still contain gas which has been leaking out since Monday.

Photos taken by the Danish military on Tuesday showed large masses of bubbles on the surface of the water emanating from the three leaks located in Sweden’s and Denmark’s economic zones, spreading from 200 to 1,000 metres in diameter.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Copenhagen was not ruling out sabotage of the gas pipelines between Russia and Europe.

READ ALSO: Gas leaks cause bubbling up in Baltic Sea as Danish PM says ‘unlikely due to chance’

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NORD STREAM

Denmark recovers object near sabotaged Nord Stream pipeline

Denmark has recovered a cylindrical object spotted near the sabotaged Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the Danish Energy Agency announced Wednesday, adding it was a "smoke buoy".

Denmark recovers object near sabotaged Nord Stream pipeline

The energy agency said in a statement that the object had been recovered at a depth of 73 metres and that a “representative of the owner, Nord
Stream 2 AG, was present during the salvage.”

According to the agency, the recovery was completed on March 28th.

“Investigations indicate that the object is an empty maritime smoke buoy, which is used for visual marking,” it said in a statement, adding that “the
object does not pose a safety risk.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed experts believe that it could be a signal antenna to activate an explosive in that part of the pipeline.

Nearly six months after the explosions that hit the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, it is still a mystery who was responsible for the underwater
sabotage, despite criminal investigations in the countries bordering the damaged part of the pipeline — Germany, Sweden and Denmark.

Russian energy giant Gazprom holds a majority stake in the twin pipelines, with the rest owned by German, Dutch and French companies.

German prosecutors said earlier this month that, in January, investigators searched a ship suspected of having transported explosives used in the blasts.

Confirmation of the searches came after the New York Times reported that US officials had seen new intelligence indicating that a “pro-Ukrainian group”
was responsible for the sabotage.

The Ukrainian government denied involvement in the action, while the Kremlin rejected the Times report as a “diversion”.

READ ALSO: Denmark invites Nord Stream owner to recover mystery object

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